Neena Suresh (b. 1988, India) will be receiving her M.F.A in Painting in 2024 from Savannah College of Art and Design, SCADnow, and received a B.F.A in Studio Fine Arts in 2015 from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. She has exhibited her work in group exhibitions at Rochester, New York galleries. Her first group exhibition was in 2014 at the Joy Gallery in Rochester, NY. She was selected by the committee of the Deaf Visual Arts Festival for an award of e-Booth in 2021. Her work consists of paintings, linocut printmaking, and mixed media. After graduating with an M.F.A., she will continue focusing on expanding her body of work and linocut printmaking. She currently lives in Yukon, Oklahoma.
The series “My Deaf Life” offers a framework of reference to my world. My Deaf Life exhibits language deprivation, audism, the impact of oralist oppression, and the communication barriers I experienced growing up. I bring my memories into contemporary narrative paintings to express my feelings.
Most of my inspiration comes from my childhood and years of trying to fit into the mold others thought I should fit in. I was born and raised in India, and at the age of three, I contracted meningitis which caused severe hearing loss. My parents had me try hearing aids and speech therapies while growing up, but these methods were ineffective. In speech therapy, I struggled to speak clearly with my voice. From then on, the hurdles in my life continued, including language deprivation and communication barriers. These challenges brought stress and frustration throughout my childhood. The lack of access to even the most basic education for India’s Deaf prompted my family to leave home, and we landed on American soil when I was seventeen years old. At that time, I was not fluent in English or American Sign Language (ASL). I became proficient in both languages over the next few years. Despite my struggles, I have found my path in life through art. Art is an excellent form of expression that helps me break down all communication barriers.
My Deaf Life portrays scenes of the hurdles I had to deal with and how I overcame those difficulties. Also, my work incorporates words of Deaf stereotypes/misconceptions on the canvas using stencils. I use achromatic colors to represent my lost identity and color palettes for the backgrounds to represent the conflicts of being in a hearing world. This series conveys messages and different perspectives that I hope will generate empathy towards all the difficulties we Deaf face navigating through a hearing world.